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OFF LIMITS

Demo derby: When Colorado's Democrats gathered on October 14 for their biennial issues conference, state party chair Mike Beatty, scheduled to deliver the opening speech, was missing in action. He finally appeared in time for lunch (where Don Fowler, head of the Democratic National Committee, was the speaker) and offered this explanation for his absence: He'd gotten a call from a certain Colorado concert promoter, who was slated to be in London the next day for the taping of a U2 concert and had discovered that his passport had expired. Beatty had spent the morning trying to guarantee safe passage for the VIP. The moral of the story, he told his fellow Democrats, was that if you want to avoid such chores, "don't run for office."

But some of those who'd been waiting for Beatty--including a half-dozen Democrats considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat in 1996--read a different moral into the story: Helping a certain concert promoter was more important than greeting a room full of the party faithful.

Freshly returned from England--and with a fresh passport in hand--Barry Fey says he appreciated Beatty's help but didn't know he was keeping anyone waiting. Fey's trip to London had originally been set for September; it wasn't until he was packing that Friday night that he discovered his passport would expire while he was out of the country. At least this time he found out in advance--ten years ago, Fey was already on the plane to England when he saw that his passport had expired; that time, he went to the U.S. Embassy to get it renewed. And after that, he says, he took to carrying around a letter from then-U.S. senator Gary Hart that vouched for his validity.

Although his name has been bandied about as a possible Senate candidate, Hart didn't make that Saturday gathering. Three days later, however, he showed up on the Today show, talking about his notion of a "Progressive Reform Party" and giving one-in-three odds that he'd toss his hat into the ring. And what would change those odds? That depends, Hart said, on "what impact you can have outside elected office." For example, he noted, if he hadn't started talking about becoming a candidate, it is unlikely that he would have been an invited guest on Today.

The indivisible woman: Another no-show at the local Democrat confab was Representative Pat Schroeder, who at least had an excused absence--that was the day the veteran congresswoman was inducted into the Women's Hall of Fame. No sooner had she accepted that honor than she received another: Ollie North named Schroeder to his list of "The 25 Most Dangerous Liberals in Washington." According to Ollie North's Black Book: "The senior woman in Congress, she is a favorite target of conservatives because of her self-righteous, smug demeanor and her overall lack of respect for her opponents." And, in fact, that was the week conservative talk-show host (and son of the man Schroeder dubbed "The Teflon President") Michael Reagan launched a new barrage at Schroeder. When she'd led the House in the Pledge of Allegiance on October 10, Reagan claimed, Schroeder had mysteriously--and intentionally?--omitted the word "indivisible."

Conspiracy or coincidence? You decide. The Congressional Record for that day notes no flub in Schroeder's performance, and Schroeder aide Dan Buck adds that the congresswoman has no problem with her math skills.

 
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